11 Oct 16

imageToday is THE DAY that we have watched get closer & closer on the calendar for 1 full year. Today is Daniel’s Last official day on Active Duty. (He will be taking a position as an IMA with his current unit – which is his dream unit, position & mission within the AF)
Let me assure you all that one does not simply come off active duty lightly. This was a decision PROCESS that required seeking a lot of wisdom from people he respects most & even more prayer to The Utmost High. When AdvoCare came into our life it was a breath of fresh air, some breathing room financially but never meant for anything more than extra & a whole lot of fun. Then the more we were around the people & the culture we knew in our guts this had changed not only our present but our future & would change the futures of many other families along the way. AdvoCare fit me like a glove that I had never even known was in the drawer… it was as if everything good & bad from the time I was very little prepared me to do this very strange & uncommon thing for the rest of my life. I knew I had found my calling, the THING I was meant to do, my own personal missing piece. For Daniel it was much slower. He was so proud of me, loved the products (of course who wouldn’t???) & adores the company itself because we share the same vision & principles but he had already found his mission. Then as time passed on AdvoCare created options & choices that we never knew existed. It was as if our eyes were clear for the first time & we started to see doors & windows that were not there before. He started seeing that AdvoCare isn’t really even about vitamins & fitness & feeling better….it’s about BEING better. It’s about Leadership. At that point AdvoCare was speaking Daniel Peebles’ love language. His mission had never been “the military” it had been TO LEAD & to shape lives for the better. Daniel’s mission was always a mission of leaving a legacy of SIGNIFICANCE. He saw with AdvoCare that was possible in so many new & exciting ways. So 1 year ago after more deliberation & prayer than I could ever possibly express we decided as a family that AdvoCare was what we wanted to do …together…forever…& full time. We had always dreamed of moving into an RV & traveling around the country with our grandkids after we retire. But because AdvoCare is simply an accelerator our dream has come true in half the time, over 35 years early & now we get to travel with our OWN extraordinary kids. So let me take a minute to PRAISE them – they are without a doubt the most exceptional, wonderful, kind, beautiful, crazy, hilarious, dauntless, independent, FUN kids I could ever wish for & we are so so blessed they are on this adventure with us. They have endured moments of crazy from both of their parents over the last year that only those 2 exact children could have endured & responded the way they did – with hugs, love, laughs, belief & of course jokes from our resident Comedian, Charley. They LOVE living in the RV, love to travel, love homeschooling but more than anything just ask them about their Daddy coming home to them full time. That will immediately tell you that we made the right decision. Is it scary? YES because the military is all we have ever known. But have you ever been faced with a decision & you KNEW 1 answer was right but the other was comfortable & safe? That was our predicament. We knew what we had to do but it took vision, bravery & guts like I’ve never needed in my life. The enemy loves to use his greatest tools on us – fear & doubt – and boy did he ever give it his best shot & even used people we care for so deeply to try to make us second guess all of our answered prayers. What the enemy didn’t count on was 2 people equally committed to a common goal trusting Someone so much higher than him & those 2 people equally believing in each other more than themselves. Daniel & I are thrilled about the future that starts tomorrow as he wakes up & doesn’t put on a uniform for the first time in 12 years.
We are anxious to keep you all updated on the journey & this adventure of our only one lifetime.
I will end with this quote:
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
Daniel Peebles ~ I will confidently go any direction you lead me because YOU are MY dreams & the only life I imagine or desire. You are my True North, the Lewis to my Clark, the compass to my map, the wind in my sails & my best friend. If I had to bet my life on anything I would bet it all on you.

Every. Single. Time.

Home is Where You Park It…

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This is the flag that hangs outside our RV. I just thought it was a cute little saying & popped it right up on our flag pole when we moved in. However last weekend this “cute little saying” became a reality as we took our very first “Roadshow” journey since we moved into the RV & I couldn’t wait to tell you all about it! Charley had a gymnastics meet just East of Montgomery in that “other” football town in Alabama 😉 LOL (Just kidding – in Auburn) We considered driving up & getting a hotel like we always do but the hotels prices were crazy & Daniel needed to be at Maxwell AFB the day before so we were looking at 3 nights in a hotel. (Sidenote: A few years ago we would have grabbed the hotel put it on the credit card, called it a vacation & paid for it for the next couple of years with interest all the while feeling terrible about it but seeing no other option other than winning the lottery or missing out on life.  Things are different now in the sense that we CAN afford to go get a hotel but we get to CHOOSE not to. I’m sure that seems like the same thing but for anyone that has ever been where we were – never really being able to choose not to spend money because we never had it, we just “made do” – you will understand. LOL  We always felt like our finances dictated most of our life, how we felt, where we went, what we could & couldn’t have or do, and at times our moods, confidence & even our happiness. Having a CHOICE means really having true POWER. Having extra money was difficult in the beginning because we just always said YES to everything because we had never had the luxury of paying cash and saying yes knowing we had the money. Eventually though we calmed down & realized choosing is a privilege & it needed to be taken seriously. The days of feeling ashamed, hopeless, the never-ending minimum paying are gone & if we are smart and good stewards of our finances they will never have to return. Whew – I got off on a soapbox there – sorry! Blessings just pop up & start flowing out. Thank you Lord for your many blessings! )

Ok back to the subject! We decided to take the RV up to Montgomery so D could get to Maxwell, we could get Charley to her meet & even spend extra time with some of our favorite people. We tucked in the RV, unhooked & off we drove. Daniel still gets really nervous driving the whole rig but he does an INCREDIBLE job! We take our time, make wide turns & enjoy the journey! About an hour after we left I audibly gasped & then giggled. Daniel worriedly responded “WHAT!?!” I said “I just remembered I didn’t pack Charley’s gymnastics uniform! I left it at home!…..Then I remembered our home is behind us!” We laughed & laughed because Daniel doesn’t turn around for ANYTHING even in our car once we leave the house. If you forgot to grab your flatiron just ask Alanna Helms if Daniel will turn around for you. 😉  Nope you are out of luck! But also it was the first time we realized that we didn’t have to pack anything or risk forgetting anything for the trip we were taking.

Daniel & I met 16 years ago in college at Faulkner University in Montgomery. We parked the RV at the campus campground for the weekend. It was like going back home & our spot was perfect (thanks to Leigh Woodring)! It backed up right to the football field, the baseball field was on one side & the softball field & the gymnasium were on the other. Games of all kind all weekend – the kids were on Cloud 9! From the second we pulled up & parked within 15 – 20 minutes we were at HOME. It was PHENOMENAL!!! For the first time that little saying meant something – “Home is where you park it!”. That night we slept in our own beds, watched a movie on the couch, cooked all our meals but one from home over the weekend to save money & I did laundry every morning like usual. We used our own towels, pulled clothes out of our drawers to get dressed each day, & even had a game night & smore night with friends. Then when we got back to Florida we hooked back up & had no unpacking to do. Most of you do not know this but I am THE WORST UN-packer that has ever graced this planet. I use to leave my bags packed & just trade out the clothes for the next trip. What a load off that a weekend trip incurred none of the usual “catching up” on Monday.  It was absolutely the best reinforcement that this decision was 100% the right move for our family.

As we were getting hooked up that night at Faulkner Daniel came inside & said “Come with me & close your eyes.” As I walked outside around the RV he told me to open my eyes. There were edison lights strung up in the trees from limb to limb right next to our RV forming the most beautiful canopy of lights above our heads with the dark night sky & beautiful stars as a backdrop. It was the perfect moment…dancing underneath the stars & lights with my college sweetheart. I love that our Roadshow’s first stop took us back to the place where our love story began…”Home is where you park it” these days but my real HOME will always be wherever I am with you Daniel Peebles. Thank you for choosing me to be your Roadshow partner all those years ago!

Blessings abound…

…when you open your mind. In this particular case it was opening our minds to something very “different”.

So as we were seriously considering this seemingly HUGE step of moving from our 3000 sq ft house into an RV we started doing a lot of specific praying. I wanted to make sure that my love of excitement & love of travel wasn’t making me overlook something huge especially if it meant it would adversely affect our kids.
Charley, our daughter, is 10 & Colin, our son, is 9. (5th grade & 3rd grade)
I have always heard to be aware of what you are praying for because as we all know The Good Lord answers prayers just sometimes in ways you don’t expect. So as I started these prayers of “is this the right move?” “Should Daniel get out of the military?” “Is this right for the kids?” “If so God, show us that this is the path YOU want us to walk” & so on. What I started to notice, overwhelmingly so, is I was very tired of never being at home in our big house but it always being so messy because who has time to clean when they are building a business, right!?! I would pack up for a trip, never unpack when we get back. Unload my car from a mixer just to load up & run off to church. Always in the car & on the go – but still paying a mortgage for what amounted to not much more than a storage room & constantly cleaning up really quick before the next thing on the agenda. The laundry was always overflowing. We ate out constantly but somehow always had dishes in the sink. I saw how disgusting my kids were just leaving everything everywhere with no regard for how it would one day find its home. I started noticing how spoiled my kids were, how very materialistic my daughter had become, how selfish my son was….all of these things I had known to some extent but they were screaming at me all of a sudden. I hated that the house was a mess but I had no time to do anything about it otherwise I was neglecting another part of my life. I was either a good wife cooking & cleaning OR a good business owner – but rarely both. I was either a good Mom spending time with her children or I was doing laundry to try to catch up – but again rarely ever was I everything I needed to be for everyone. I would sit down in the office to work & the laundry would nag at me or I would do all the laundry knowing I had done nothing productive for our business all day which is our future & cannot be neglected. The guilt of always feeling like a failure in one area of my life overwhelmed me.
On the Daniel side of things we kept praying we would have a concrete answer of what God wanted us to do. We prayed & He WAS talking but we were waiting on a neon sign that said “DANIEL & ASHLEY YOU SHOULD PUT IN THE PAPERWORK & COME OFF ACTIVE DUTY.” Seriously, we wanted it THAT clear & cut & dry. I believe we all know He doesn’t generally speak to us like that although what He was saying was JUST as loud once we started listening & looking for the ways He was speaking to us.
Once we made the decision we had to figure out HOW to do it financially. Then the RV idea came circling back around. If we move into the RV we will cut our cost of living so when our income is chopped in half it won’t be so drastic of a change. “GENIUS! Lets do it!” I thought. So I put our house on the market & one thing led to another & we had a possible buyer & renters ready to move in within 3 weeks! WHAT!?! So we looked at our prayers & the answers we had been given. A way to cut our cost of living, pay down more debt before the single income times ahead, a way to keep our home just in case this is where we wanted to return after our travels. A way to squash that materialism in our children before it was too late. Moving into an RV is CERTAINLY a great way to accomplish that because you have to part with SO MUCH that you once thought a necessity. The truth is, especially in our country today, we think we need WAY more than we actually do. One ah-ha moment during the downsizing was seeing that in the loads & loads of THINGS we had – what we NEEDED (& that is still a loose translation of the word) fit into the corner of our old kitchen. It took up less room than our old kitchen table. I was blown away by how much we had, sure, but I was more blown away by how little we actually NEED when it gets boiled down to piles like – Storage, Give Away & Take to the RV. The Give Away pile was overwhelmingly huge & honestly it was shameful & I was embarrassed.
We also saw this as a way to bite the selfishness in the butt – because in the RV we all have our own space but we also share more space than our 4 tiny selves ever had to in the big house. This idea & plan was a way to move our family in the direction we wanted to go. Being a military family we have always been super close & honestly never needed even one outside person to make ourselves happy. As long as we have had each other all was right in our world. I can see why the idea of downsizing so much is scary to a family that isn’t particularly close because getting to know each other again or for the first time is very vulnerable and truly you learn more about yourself through this process than anyone else around you….and sometimes we don’t like what we learn about ourselves. I would challenge you to open your mind because the blessings that abound from more time together, less distractions, figuring out what really matters in life is such a much bigger blessing than any amount of THINGS ever could be.
That is exactly what we have found – we minimized our THINGS to maximize our LIFE together. We no longer have cable (just air channels) so in the evenings Charley & I cook dinner, do homework & watch Wheel of Fortune together (I have always loved it but why would a 10 year old watch Wheel of Fortune when the Disney Channel is readily available!?!) & through this we have found that is “our new thing”. Daniel & Colin do all the “mans work” outside & of course still play playstation together any chance they get. I even love that our kids are forced to pick up dog poop. Its character building people! Life doesn’t always smell like roses & sometimes dang it its just a poopy situation & you’ve got to deal with it the best you can with the best attitude possible. You see our wonderful, amazing but very blessed kids have no idea what life was like growing up for their Mom & Dad. Neither of us had the cushy start they have had, we didn’t get to travel, our parents worked constantly to provide for us & we didn’t get to see them & talk to them & really BE with them like we do our kids. This move for us has brought us all closer physically but even more we are so much closer emotionally. We TALK like never before, we play games, we have a blast & its all based around our family time. I cannot believe how much TIME we have when the distractions are minimized. Its sad to say that the TV, our busy schedules and even our big house use to dictate the amount of quality time we spent together.

A lot of people have asked if we did this to grow our business. I of course hope over the next year or more that our business continues to grow & flourish & that the people on our team see their wildest dreams come true. But this move was solely to put our family back on the right track to raising contributing members of society, getting our priorities straight & strengthening our family bond. Time is so precious & we were wasting it on things that didn’t matter at all just because that was what “you are supposed to do” (grow up, go to college, find your spouse, have kids, buy the biggest house you can afford, drive the best cars you can afford & then work the rest of your life to pay for all of that). At the end of our travels when we settle down somewhere if our business looks exactly like it does today & our family is closer than ever before THAT IS A WIN FOR US. We won’t quit working because we LOVE hard work & our business. We won’t stop working for our team because we love THEM. But we didn’t make this big life change to increase our bank account. This was about the increase in life experiences & maximizing this incredible gift of life.

An RV!?! How this all came to be…

Well to catch you up to where we are now let me start from the beginning. Daniel & I met at a Christian University in Alabama where we both attended right out of high school. Honestly he was & is “the one for whom my soul loves” & we have been smitten with each other for 16 years now. Daniel joined ROTC during college right after 9/11 & was commissioned just after graduation. We moved to Biloxi, MS to start building our life together & while there added 2 beautiful babies to our family (Charley, our daughter & Colin, our son) & lost everything in Hurricane Katrina. (I am only mentioning that because it will come back around on down the line in a future story in a bigger way than we initially realized) We then moved to England with the Air Force & were able to live MY lifelong dream of traveling the world…instilling inside the rest of my family the same soul-generated love of travel.  You see when anyone asked me what my dream was as a child or as an adult it was always to have a family and TRAVEL. I love it. It is my passion. It fires me up like nothing else. I love to see new places with my own eyes. I love to behold the beauty of all of God’s creation. I want to see & do everything I can in this life. I never want to look back & regret the things we didn’t do, the chances we didn’t take & the places we didn’t go. In my life so far I have ONLY regretted all of those things that I did NOT do. Mark Twain speaks straight to who I am deep inside when he said “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

So back to England we visited country after country after country & I lived in an absolute dream world for 3 years & 27 countries 🙂 (so many more stories to come from that time too) THEN the military moved us back to the States. As much as I LOVE (deep in my soul & in the fabric of who I am kind of LOVE) our amazing country we were not ready to come back…there was still so much more to see. The day we left England was one of the saddest days of my life and as the plane took off I looked out the window and said out loud “This isn’t goodbye – it’s just see ya later. I will be back”. At that point I knew “one day” I would go back but if we were being honest finances were not in our favor. I really felt like my days of travel were being snuffed out before I was even 30 years old. We were moved to Stafford, VA right outside DC for the next 10 months and then swiftly on to the Florida Panhandle where we are currently stationed.

This duty station, location & time in our lives forever altered the course of our family’s future and the legacy we will leave behind when our time on earth is finished. It was here that my cousin Haley called and told me about her new business, how great she felt, how much she loved helping other people & that she thought I would be good at it too. I disagreed but agreed to look into it just to find the reasons why I COULDN’T do it. Those reasons were never found but I did find an overwhelming sense of “could this be the missing piece, that one thing I could be good at, that one thing without a name that Ive been praying for???” And….it was. Immediately it just “fit”…the culture, the people, the products, the financial opportunity, the life I had always thought was only for “those people” but never little old me from a small town in Alabama…it all just fit exactly into our lives like it truly was there the whole time. So much so we look back & wonder what in the world would we be doing right now, in this moment if we DIDN’T have our AdvoCare business??? I saw people living life their own terms, designing their life not just mindlessly going through their days. These people were HAPPY & FULFILLED & they were making a TRUE, SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE in the lives around them. THAT, that is what I craved…significance, fulfillment, certainty knowing what I wanted & where I was going. Those people were no longer SEARCHING. I longed for that.

I believe an entrepreneurial spirit and the adventurous spirit go hand in hand. I had never seen myself as someone who desired to be “a business owner” but because of traveling, experiencing & seeing the world I had developed a healthy love of risk taking, seizing the moment and trying new things. I knew I wanted “life on my terms” and would have told you that is where I was headed but I had just never put together that working FOR someone else & having “life on my own terms” were mutually exclusive & both could not simultaneously exist. So this epiphany lit the entrepreneurs inside us & we (my husband and I) embarked on a journey that we would never return from…because from that moment forward we were not the same people, we had changed from the inside out…more confidence, more courage, thicker skin, risk takers, book readers, wisdom seekers but most of all we were partners in this together for the good and the bad & that felt like HOME. No more his job & my job, his day & my day suddenly it was OUR LIFE that WE were designing.

So we worked really hard & the business took off because as business owners you control the speed. In the first year we retired myself from being a full time Massage Therapist, within the first 18 months we were able to pay off over 70K in debt, the 2nd year we matched Daniel’s active duty salary (that it took him over 10 years to build) with part time work & by the Grace of The Good Lord this last year, in our 3rd year, Daniel got the opportunity to make a decision all on his own to either stay in or come off active duty service. You see the decision was never his before, it was always controlled by our place in life, our finances, our fears, our insecurities, “our plan” that wasn’t really our plan, our lack of vision, our lack of dreaming….& our debt. Because we stepped out and said yes to US we started to dream, make goals, crush those goals & we found something deep inside us that we never knew existed – HOPE – for a better future for our family than the path we realized we were on. This is the quote I always go back to on how we were living our life:

“The most dangerous risk of all — the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” ~ Randy Komisar

The path we had been paving did NOT lead to what we wanted most out of life nor did it lead to a place where we could have ever “bought” that freedom. What we wanted most was more TIME together, more travels together & by together I mean our tiny little family of 4. Even if by some miracle one day we “struck it rich” our children would be long grown up & that dream would still be impossible. In that moment we started to proactively build our own preferred future instead of reactively & automatically building someone else’s just because that WAS “the plan”. Last October Daniel made the difficult decision to choose our own hopes and dreams over the career he thought he had always wanted in the military. (I must put in right here how AMAZING my husband is at his job & how the Air Force will most certainly miss his contributions because he is an INCREDIBLE leader that truly cares about making a difference) A decade ago that wonderful career was exactly what he wanted but if you really search your soul do ANY of us want the same things we did a decade ago? We change, circumstances change & life changes us. His decision came with a lot of revelations, choices we had never had & so much more freedom than we knew existed & it was SCARY (which funnily enough is how we knew we were finally on the right path & outside our comfort zone, “away from safe harbor” if you will). In starting to dream again we made an actual dream board, wrote out our bucket list & we started crossing them off one by one by one. From the very beginning we had one scribbled on the bottom of the sheet almost as an afterthought: “After retirement age 65 ish – buy an RV & travel around the country.” Little did we know because of all the events that had taken place that “dream” was closer than we realized.

Over the next few weeks we were trying to decide what to do after the military doesn’t dictate where we live. We knew we didn’t want to go home to Alabama (Roll Tide though!) because our adventurous spirits just wouldn’t allow us to go right back to where we started quite yet. We started throwing around ideas of where to settle down but the truth is we just didn’t know. One of the blessings and curses of the military is you have no control over that so why worry about it!?! You go where you are told & I am a big believer that you can be happy ANYWHERE if you have the right mindset and attitude, the reverse is also true if the mindset and attitude are all wrong. In throwing ideas & places against the wall to see if they stuck I said “Well we COULD just buy an RV, move into it, homeschool the kids & travel around the country for a year”. So….That is just what we did.

Signed,

Ashley Peebles (who lives in a pimped out RV with her husband, 2 kids & 2 dogs…& has NEVER been happier)